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Monday, September 21, 2020

Opinion

Editor’s Corner: an ode to President Obama


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Courtesy of Getty Images

Nobel prize winning and economist Paul Krugman once wrote in a Rolling Stone op-ed that “Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history.”

I agree with this statement.

Barack Obama was the first president I ever voted for, and I can safely say I’m glad that I did, regardless of if my vote in Texas counted or not.

Last week, Obama gave one of the most powerful speeches I’ve ever seen a president make. Some may think him to be a weak president, but this was not one of those weak moments. He tapped into something that’s difficult to do unless you’re a second-term president: raw emotional truth-telling.

“Our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Obama said. “It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel.”

He not only championed for tighter gun laws, he reached out to responsible gun owners to rally behind him.

Obama listens to facts. It’s almost literally his job to pay attention to polling data that says what the American people want. He knows that a large majority of Americans favor tighter gun regulation and laws preventing those with mental illnesses from acquiring a firearm.

Additionally, it was weird growing up with Obama as President, because this is the first president I’ve known who I can actually relate to.

I am part of the 50 percent of Americans who grew up with divorced parents, just like Obama did. What makes me part of the minority, however, is that I grew up without my father being a significant influence on my life, which Obama wrote a book about.

I am also mixed-race with a Hispanic last name and raised by a white mother. Obama had African origins, but our racial situations and upbringing are similar.

In his interview with comedian Marc Maron, Obama detailed how even though he had African origins, he never really connected with African-American culture. This is similar to my disconnect with the Hispanic side of my family.

My point is, Obama connects not just with me, but with a large majority of Americans. He has the ability to empathize with people in a way not many past presidents could.

To me, empathy is what makes a person good. The ability to place yourself in a situation and understand what people are going through, or at least understand how a person feels, is something too many politicians lack.

Lack of empathy, I feel, is what is what contributes to this extremely divisive political culture we have. When you have media outlets passively suggesting that Muslims are terrorists, people will take that to heart without ever thinking about what actually makes people want to commit acts of terror.

When Mitt Romney was running for President in 2012, his biggest problem was his lack of empathy. He was an incredibly wealthy man, going out and telling people to go out and start a business by borrowing money from your parents, not taking into account that not everybody has money to do that.

I’m not saying Obama is flawless, because he definitely has faults, but that just shows how human he is.

I’ll miss this President. It’s been a good eight years.

Opinion editor Anthony Torres is a political science junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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